Mary Halvorson improvising with super-participants Angela Morris and John Lake.
Mary gave a great class on practicing improvising with intervals — limiting yourself to one interval or set of intervals, and working on coming up with ideas you like using them. Then practicing using only those ideas, with or without the metronome. Also, using those ideas in a group setting in which each player is given a set of musical parameters. These parameters eventually came to include interactive instructions (for example, shadowing, or ignoring, other players) and rhythmic ideas. The crux of her workshop was, for me, the value in working with small bits of information you come up with yourself. That is a unique perspective and not often talked about. Those of you who know Mary’s playing know how well she applies the lessons.
Drew Gress and E.J. Strickland gave a subtle and powerful workshop on rhythm section playing. It’s a hard area to talk about, and it was inspiring to see the honesty they each bring to the interactions within a group. Lots of played examples, including exercises they made up on the spot (seemed like a theme for yesterday), like inserting random subdivisions and odd metered bars into forms in order to practice awareness and interaction.